Buckelew Programs Welcomes New Board Chair Judy Kramer

Judy is pictured bottom right with family members

When Judy took the helm of Experience Corps Marin in 2014, she was easing her way back into a career after spending almost a decade raising her family. “I worked in finance for 20 years before this and our youngest child was starting college,” she says. “As a non-profit ‘newbie,’ for the first 12 months I was convinced that people could see right through me.”

In essence, she was right. Doug Brown was a volunteer with the non-profit as well as a board member at Buckelew Programs. One day, he asked her out for coffee. “When Doug invites you for coffee, it’s never about the coffee,” Judy laughs. “He said he had been ‘watching me,’ and was impressed with my skills in running the organization. He knew I had a finance background and said my skills could really benefit Buckelew. He asked me to consider joining the board.” She and Doug now work together at 10,000 Degrees, also a non-profit.

Buckelew’s mission and values struck a chord with Judy. A close family member conquered addiction and has been receiving treatment for depression for many years. She knew enough about mental health challenges to know that mental illness does not discriminate. “It’s important that everyone has access to mental health services, regardless of their ability to pay,” she says.

Now with seven years of experience serving on the board, Judy has learned a great deal about the challenges our clients face. “The road to recovery is often bumpy,” she says. “Buckelew is unique, in that treatment and support services are tailored to the individual needs of each client. There is a continuum of services in place that addresses all aspects of recovery, including relapse as well as steps towards independence.”

While a Buckelew board member, Judy served a term as secretary as well as oversaw the large volunteer program that supported Buckelew’s MarinScapes annual fundraising event for almost four years. She was eventually approached by the acting chair and was asked to consider assuming the role of vice chair, which she accepted. “I have such high regard for the chairs who came before me,” she says. “They all brought something different to the table; steering the board but maintaining congeniality that made for good collaboration and decision making.”

Today, Judy feels that the board is in the best shape that she has experienced. “The senior management team is diversified, all bringing their own strengths and talents,” she says. “And while the focus has always been on the client, we have evolved to where the program staff have a broader understanding of the contracts and budgeting process than ever before.”

Judy’s vision as chair is to build a robust board by recruiting new individuals who can bring fresh perspectives that will invigorate and motivate the entire board to bring direction that best supports Chris Kughn, Buckelew Programs’ CEO. “We are looking for diversity – geographically, professionally, age-wise, life experience-wise and other attributes that reflect the communities we serve as well as bringing continued strength to the board,” says Judy.

Although Judy will be new at the helm of Buckelew’s board, she has already been influential in modernizing the infrastructure of the 50-year old non-profit. In 2018, she received a substantial unexpected inheritance that she gifted to Buckelew, which was then matched by an anonymous donor. The combined gift enabled Buckelew to invest in transferring operations towards a new electronic health record system, which in turn allowed the organization to apply for contracts and grants that required the infrastructure to produce automated records. As a result, Buckelew successfully transitioned into a fully-automated client record database.

Judy is also looking forward to Buckelew’s new May 14 inaugural fundraising event, ‘Bike4Buckelew,’ an outdoor event scheduled for China Camp in Marin, which will include several mountain bike rides, as well as a 5K walk/run.

“I’m so excited for this new direction we’re taking,” she says. “Myself, I go outdoors for rejuvenation – physically, spiritually and mentally. This will be a fun, active event at beautiful China Camp – perfect for mountain bikers, runners and hikers alike. We are building something different and we’re already successfully reaching new partners and audiences who align with our vision, mission and goal to end the stigma surrounding mental health. Buckelew has always been a strong advocate in promoting mental health access for all, and ‘Bike4Buckelew’ aligns so well with the exciting direction that we’re going in.”